During our recent trip to Islay to explore this island’s famous distilleries I noticed, as everyone else who visited Bruichladdich distillery since last year, shiny ROV (remotely-operated vehicle) placed outside in their courtyard. After the trip I did little research into this object and found out rather interesting story.
In June 2005 when local John Baker was fishing about 3 miles from Mull of Oa he spotted an object floating just underneath the surface. As he considered it hazard to shipping in the area he contacted his brother-in-law Harold from Islay coastguard who helped him to bring it ashore. As the mine detecting robot had clear MOD (Ministry of Defense) markings Harold called his colleagues at Clyde coastguard who contacted Royal Navy base in Faslane about this lost vessel. However, Royal Navy repeatedly denied losing any submarine or any other vessel.
In the meantime Harold placed the sub in his garden in Port Ellen where it became tourist attraction. In about two weeks time Harold received a phone call from Royal Navy and they admitted that it is really one of their own. And in three months time they finally sent Mine Counter Measure Vessel HMS Blyth from Faslane to collect the submarine.
With little time they had Bruichladdich distillery decided to use this story and released their now legendary WMD II ‘Yellow submarine’ 14 year old whisky with the submarine on the label (in this case of clever marketing WMD stands for Whisky of Mass Distinction rather than Weapons of Mass Destruction).
During collection of their submarine the skipper of HMS Blyth was presented with a case of this new Bruichladdich whisky and to no surprise the Royal Navy also purchased some more of these bottles later.
The story went full circle recently when John Gamble from Islay noticed that the submarine became obsolete and therefore surplus to requirements as it was entered to auction through e-Bay from Plymouth base. Wisely, Bruichladdich distillery stepped in and bought the 850 kg sub for themselves. After some necessary restoration in Portnahaven in Islay it was craned on to Bruichladdich distillery courtyard to a great applause during Annual Open Day 2016.